A stay at the Dorchester, or the 45 Park Lane? It’s the kind of problem we’d love to have everyday. At first glance, there isn’t much to separate the two, but look past the fact that they are both on the eastern edge of Hyde Park, and part of the Dorchester Collection, and the differences begin to show.
For a start, the Dorchester is not just a luxury hotel. It’s a London Grande Dame where everything is opulent, richly colored and magnificently Old World. The 45 Park Lane is a different beast entirely, with an elegant Art Deco design, and the intimate ambiance of a private gentleman’s club.
So where should you stay on your next trip to London? Let’s find out, shall we?
The Dorchester’s doormen in top hats and green tailcoats provide the first hint that this is no ordinary bolthole. Then there is the hotel’s illustrious guest list, which includes names like Winston Churchill, Prince Philip and more recently Woody Allen (who adopted it as his London haunt).
What you’ll love
- The concierge care, which can’t be beat (there is a theater desk for crying out loud…)
- The hotel services for families and children, which can range from professional babysitting to family-friendly games in the rooms
- Phil Hammond’s explosive floral displays in the lobby, which sets a lavish tone for the whole hotel
How it contrasts with the 45 Park Lane
The Dorchester has history…and a lot of it. Queen Elizabeth II stayed here before getting married to Prince Philip, and many chapters of the legendary romance between Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor unfolded there, behind the closed doors of the Harlequin Penthouse. The Dorchester is also where London’s upper crust partied during the “Blitz”, and British actor Peter Sellers proposed to Bond Girl Britt Ekland by offering her the entire content of the Dorchester flower shop. If Grande Dame credentials are what you’re looking, few hotels come with a better resumé than the Dorchester.
The Dorchester on arrival
The Dorchester’s unassuming English residential-style facade, with pretty wrought-iron balconies, does little to hint at the world of luxury that lies beyond. But step inside the floral-scented lobby…and it’s another world.
Explosive floral displays, gold-framed mirrors, heavy silk draperies and giant faux-marble pillars, the Dorchester is Old World luxury from every angle. The beating heart of the hotel is The Promenade restaurant just off the lobby. It’s a mecca for afternoon tea since 1931, and the scene is as traditional as you’d expect- think Thierry Despont designs, live piano music, small groups of families and friends seated in sumptuous velvet chairs and large marble pillars interspersed with potted plants and large floral arrangements…
The service, delivered by the Dorchester’s dedicated team , is just as old school, and of red carpet standards for all. From the crisp-looking 20 something staff who whisk your coat away the second you walk in to the concierge team, who seem to hold the keys to the whole city, everyone is at the top of their game…and they’re all yours.
As you would expect of a hotel with the Dorchester’s pedigree, rooms are large and comfortable, with a decor that leans towards elegant English country house style. Entry-level Deluxe Queen Rooms, starting at 280 ft², are perfect for solo travelers.
For something special, the Dorchester’s signature suites have a legacy of their own. In the stately Eisenhower Suite, General Eisenhower planned the Normandy invasion. In the Harlequin Penthouse, Elizabeth Taylor had a pink marble bathroom installed to bathe like Cleopatra. The bathroom still gleams with old-school glamour, and a dip in its tub is an experience to cherish.
Menus to celebrate, impress and remember, the restaurants at the Dorchester cover it all. There is The Grill, with a warm and welcoming atmosphere, and a menu that showcases the best of modern British cuisine. On Sundays, a traditional roast is served, which makes for quite a highlight.
Elsewhere, Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester is a three Michelin star restaurant where exquisitely prepared culinary masterpieces are served with flair, and at tables cocooned by curtains of shimmering fiber optics.
China Tang is another Dorchester restaurant where well-to-do Londoners head to for the best dumplings in town. Just ask Tony Blair, Kate Moss or Tom Jones, who swear by it.
Standout experiences worth knowing about before you check in
Since its opening in 1931, the Dorchester has served, what is considered by many, the finest afternoon tea in London. It’s an experience full of tradition, and one not to be missed while you’re in the city.
The Dorchester also has a spa with spotless facilities, including a sauna, a steam room and a relaxation lounge. For a moment to yourself, you won’t find a more soothing space, or zen-like ambience, this side of London.
45 Park Lane
With just 45 guestrooms and an elegant Art Deco aesthetic throughout, the 45 Park Lane is more relaxed boutique than formal Grande Dame, but it does not lack ‘wow’ factor.
What you’ll love
- The views of Hyde Park (and London’s skyline) from every room
- The warm and intimate atmosphere of the hotel that instantly makes you feel cocooned from the outside world
- The five-star service that comes courtesy of a host for every room
How it contrasts with the Dorchester
The biggest difference between the Dorchester and the 45 Park Lane is the warm and leather-heavy decor of the latter, courtesy of French designer and artist Thierry Despont. In place of vast floral arrangements, the hotel also boasts an enviable collection of contemporary artworks by the likes of Damien Hirst, Bruce McLean and members of the Chelsea Arts Club, making it a great bolthole for art and design buffs.
The 45 Park Lane on arrival
The Dorchester’s younger (and many would say sexier) sister has an identity of her own. There is something unique about the way she commands attention with a sleek, curvaceous facade on the otherwise culturally devoid Park Lane promenade. But step inside, and you’ll see where the real magic happens.
Where the Dorchester revels in traditions and yesteryear’s glamour, 45 Park Lane is more a lifestyle hotel, with contemporary artworks in the rooms and common areas, and swanky Art Deco designs by artist Thierry Despont for Mad Man-esque vibes. Warm colors, lots of varnished wood and butterscotch leather chairs wherever your eyes fall… the 45 Park Lane is a hotel for the contemporary, and those who have a different idea of what glamour should look like.
The atmosphere is that of a luxurious club, a nod- no doubt- to the exciting past of the hotel as the hangout of original Playboy Club. These days, the crowd is more tame, of course, but the hotel’s aesthetic still leans toward the masculine, and you’ll be hard-pressed to find a hotel with better looks (or better-dressed staff) this side of London.
Adding to this vibrancy (and contemporary atmosphere) is celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck’s only restaurant in London- CUT at 45 Park Lane- serving some of the best Wagyu steaks and American wines in the city. It’s the hotel’s only restaurant, but it’s a powerful one to have.
Art Deco in design, rooms at the 45 Park Lane are handsome retreats with more of the same varnished wood wall cladding and contemporary artworks that won you over in the lobby. Expect clean lines, soft fabrics and an abundance of space and natural light that seems to bounce off carefully placed mirror details.
More creature comforts come in the form of the underfloor heating in the bathroom and tech touches, like an iPad to control every detail of the room, and a Nespresso machine that further adds to its masculine feel.
With just 45 rooms and suites, 45 Park Lane can also afford a host for every room, and uninterrupted views of Hyde Park and the London skyline from every angle. Work, rest or play, at the 45 Park Lane, the choice is yours right from the entry-level Superior King Rooms, and all the up to the magnificent penthouse with a wraparound terrace.
There is only one, but Wolfgang Puck’s first restaurant in Europe is a head-turner in more ways than one. For a start, it’s a modern American steak restaurant that will take you to Beverly Hills with its picturesque setting. Then there is the menu, with some of the finest Wagyu steaks and pan-roasted lobster in town.
Pair your meal with a rare American wine, or a cocktail from the eponymous BAR 45 one level up for the ultimate dining experience.
Standout experiences worth knowing about before you check in
At the 45 Park Lane, guests enjoy the personalized attention of a private butler right from the entry-level Superior King Rooms. Some would call this the height of luxury, but the 45 Park Lane just calls it genuine care.
Afternoon tea at the 45 Park Lane is just as quirky as everything else about this hotel. Expect an American-style feast with savory delights like beef sliders and sweet treats like cola cake and s’mores. The atmosphere matches the menu, with relaxing lounge music adding to the modern vibe.
For more information about these two luxury hotels- or any other in London- give us a call!